Portals in Ingress take the place of mobs in other MMOs – they are what you attack, defend, or claim – depending on whether or not the portal is enemy, friendly, or unclaimed. They are the source of loot, the equipment you need to do other things. Hacking a portal, friendly or enemy, will yield random items: offensive (amp bursters, ultra strikes), defensive (shields, turrets, force amps), and utility (energy cubes, portal keys, other mods, capsules). However, an enemy portal might attack back and drain a portion of your energy reserve. If the reserve goes to zero, your scanner displays static; to fix this, add energy by walking around and collecting more or by using an energy cube.
Items are consumable, except for capsules which serve as storage organizers. Even portal keys can be consumable: if you hang onto a portal key, you can access the portal remotely and recharge it if it is friendly; however the portal key is consumed if it is the destination portal of a link you are throwing.
Portals have 8 resonator slots, and resonators range from level 1 to 8. The portal level is simply the average of the deployed resonators. Basically just add up the resonators levels and divide by 8, rounding down. Higher level resonators hold more energy and the collective total energy serves as the health (hit points) of the portal.
There are restrictions on how many resonators a single player can put on a single portal: one level 8 resonator, one level 7, two level 6, two level 5, four level 4, four level 3, four level 2, and eight level 1.
Thus, a player on their own can only create a level 5 portal, using an 87665544 deployment. (The resonator levels add up to 45, 45/8 rounds down to 5).
Two players working together can deploy a level 6 portal: 88776666.
Three players can make a level 7 portal: 8887766.
It takes eight players to make a level 8 portal: 88888888. (There is an exception involving Jarvis and ADA Refactors, but let’s skip that for now since those are very rare items.)
Resonators don’t have to be deployed at the same time – players can upgrade resonators on a friendly portal, as long as the portal is fully deployed (all 8 slots have a resonator). So I could start a L5 portal, have somebody else stop by later upgrade various resonators to make it L6, have yet another person make it L7, etc.
However, the fastest way to make a level 8 portal is to actually gather 8 players that can place L8 resonators. Especially if you want to make several, it’ll take too long waiting for 8 players to randomly come by and upgrade.
Level 8 portals are useful since they have the best chances of giving the highest level resonators and weapons – useful for offensive and defensive operations! There are two portal mods that are useful for building a farm: heat sink (lower the timeout between hacks) and multi-hack (increase the number of hacks in a four hour time period). A portal only takes 4 mods though, so a typical farm will have 2 shields, a heat sink, and a multi-hack.
You don’t have to deploy resonators in all 8 slots of the portal. If you don’t, the main effect is the portal will be lower level than it could be (e.g. 1 L8 resonator makes a L1 portal. Or say you deploy 871, that results in an L2 portal by just using 3 resonators).
Why would you do this?
One reason is simply you are short on resonators. Or you are in “enemy” territory and don’t expect to be able to hold the portal long, so why bother fully deploying it.
Another reason is you expect others to come by and help fill out the portal. Say your home territory was attacked and you are rebuilding. Due to resonators limitations you can only make an L5 portal on your own, but you also expect friendly players to also help rebuild soon. In this case, placing 87665544 will waste the 665544 resonators when upgraded by others. May as well just put the 87 down or maybe just the 8.
The most interesting reason to partially deploy is to prevent friendly players from linking to that portal! You can’t stop a friendly player from dropping a resonator on the portal to fill it out, but that takes an extra step. They may already have the key due to previous hacking or link destruction – so if you claim and fully deploy a portal, it may be immediately linked to and/or part of field sooner than expected. Such a link/field might advertise the portal more than you want… more on this in another post about “guardian” portals.
Hacking a portal is easy: press the “hack” button on the portal’s info screen.There is also a mini-game that involves tracing patterns on the screen, reachable by long pressing the “hack” button.
Once the screen is up, tracing a circumflex (^) will give a boost to the chance of getting a portal key – it is the “request key” pattern. After that, between 1 and 5 symbols are displayed and you have a few seconds to trace them. Depending on your accuracy and speed, you’ll earn a bonus to the number of items won.
It is easier to watch this video showing the entire process.
I do glyph-hacks when I have the time, since on average I’ll get a 50% boost on items. Or if I really need the portal key in which case I’ll also do the “request key” sigil – this doesn’t guarantee you get a key, it does improve the chances.
OK, not much more to say about a single portal. The game adds a new dimension, literally, when you have multiple friendly portals and can link them, creating fields and layers. More on that in another post!